Police Use Of Force | KNKX

Police Use Of Force

Attorney James Bible, bottom right, and the family of the late Manuel Ellis are seen at a press conference in June. On Friday, Bible announced the family's plan to seek $30 million in damages in a lawsuit against the city of Tacoma.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Wednesday marks one year since Manuel Ellis was killed by Tacoma police. The 33-year-old Black man was heard on video saying he couldn't breathe as officers restrained him following an altercation that began when police say they saw Ellis trying to open the door of a car that wasn't his. His death was ruled a homicide.

Law enforcement fills a Tacoma intersection on Jan. 23 after a police officer responding to reports of street racing drove through a crowd. The burned rubber from the illegal racing and burnouts marks the pavement at Ninth Street and Pacific Avenue.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

The Pierce County Force Investigation Team said Friday that it has determined that six people were struck during a Jan. 23 incident in which a Tacoma police officer drove through a crowd of people. Members of the team have talked with three of the people and are working to get statements from the others.

Dr. Nicole Yarid, an associate medical examiner for King County, walks into the autopsy room dedicated to examining people who died from COVID-related complications. Yarid told KNKX that the pandemic response has detracted from other priorities.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Since its founding more than a century ago, Washington state has seen few changes to the way sudden or unusual deaths are investigated. And experts from every corner of the system acknowledge it’s far from perfect. 

Skagit County Coroner Hayley Thompson (left) and Connie Le Sourd, owner of Mount Vernon Cemetery, arrange urns of unclaimed remains in a shared crypt during a committal service in October 2019. Thompson is one of 17 elected coroners in Washington state.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Dr. Carl Wigren could stand in for just about any medical examiner as seen on TV. He’s witty, a fast talker who knows a lot about investigating deaths.

In fact, Wigren has been on TV, after testifying as an expert witness in high-profile criminal cases. He’s the guy you call when a death investigation furnishes more questions than answers. 

And, Wigren says, that happens a lot more than you think. 

Seattle police officers form a line during a protest in downtown Seattle on May 30. Seattle Police Department has been criticized for use of force during Black Lives Matter protests in recent months.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX (file)

If a police officer behaves badly enough, that officer can lose the ability to work in law enforcement forever. Decertification prevents problematic officers from bouncing from department to department.

Mike Reicher, an investigative reporter with The Seattle Times, reviewed four years of data and found police are very rarely decertified in Washington state.

Katrina Johnson, cousin to the late Charleena Lyles, spoke at a rally on June 18, 2020, the three-year anniversary of Lyles' death.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Katrina Johnson had prepared for a career in nursing. Then Seattle police shot and killed her cousin, Charleena Lyles, on June 18, 2017.

"From that day, it's just been a constant fight trying to understand and come to terms with what happened," said Johnson, a Tacoma resident.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson has issued recommendations on transparency when police use deadly force.
Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press

The public, and state lawmakers, should have easy access to data about the police use of deadly force.

So says Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who released a report today outlining reforms and calling for more transparency in information surrounding incidents where police discharge their firearms or are involved in incidents that result in death or serious injury.

Seattle police officers observe the crowd during May Day 2018.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

This week, Washington’s Criminal Justice Training Commission will vote on rules for de-escalation training for law enforcement in the state. Under voter-approved Initiative 940, passed last year, all law enforcement must receive new training in violence de-escalation, mental health and first aid for victims.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

The shooting death of Charleena Lyles by Seattle police has once again brought the use of deadly force into the spotlight. Friends and family of Lyles have asked why other less-lethal force wasn’t used when two officers responded to an attempted burglary report at Lyles’ apartment Sunday morning.

More than 100 Seattle police officers have filed a federal civil rights complaint against city and federal authorities.

They allege the agreement between the U.S. Department of Justice and the city of Seattle restricting police  use of force has put both police and the public in danger.